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I'm in Coupons Scholarship 2014. Entry-Elaine T.

Coupons are useful tools for saving money.  They can offer a variety of different savings, but they all have some kind of value when shopping.  Because of this value, they can affect the decisions one makes when shopping.  The most important decision is whether or not to buy something, and for many people, the possession of a coupon can cause a change in this decision.  I personally do not use coupons regularly because I will not allow them to influence my purchasing decisions.  I will use them only when they will truly save me money.

Coupons are not a very big part of my shopping experience.  I do not look for coupons to use because there are not many coupons for things I spend money on.  For example, because I still live with my parents, I do not spend money on food, apart from the occasional restaurant lunch.  Therefore, grocery coupons are useless to me.  Often, I buy things that would not have any coupons available, like used books.  In fact, for some of the stores I frequent, I have never seen a coupon.  When I shop, getting a discount is not something that I usually consider, unless I already have a coupon in my possession.  In addition, it takes time to look for coupons I might find helpful.  If I do look for them, I will probably only find one or two, if any.  This is why I do not search for deals.  The time I spend looking for coupons is not worth the gain.  If I needed to buy something, and a coupon would be easy to find, then I would find and use it in order to save money.  If a coupon is hard to find, then I will usually pay full price.  My time is valuable.

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I try not to let coupons influence my decision to buy something.  I plan my purchase first, then find out whether I can get a discount on it.  I do not decide to buy something just because I have a coupon for it.  Getting a coupon for something does not necessarily mean that I will buy it.  The point of coupons is to save money.  Buying things I did not plan on buying is a loss of money, even with a discount.  Sometimes it is tempting.  Last summer, after attending an event at the local library, I was given a half-off coupon for a nearby ice cream store.  Because I would save money, I planned on going to get ice cream the next day.  It was not long before I realized that I would actually lose money by using my coupon.  Before getting it, I had not planned on eating ice cream at all.  If an ice cream for myself cost two dollars, the coupon would have saved me one dollar.  However, I still would have spent one dollar that I had not planned to spend.  If I had not acquired the coupon, I would not have planned to get ice cream.  In the end, I decided not to go. A coupon does not save you money if it causes you to buy things that you otherwise would not have bought.

On the other hand, if I acquire a coupon for something I already had planned to buy, then I will use it.  After all, no one likes to spend more money than they have to.  When I get a coupon that I think I might use, I keep it around, just in case I need it.  I am currently holding a coupon for a restaurant I occasionally go to.  Having the coupon is not a good reason to make a special trip to the restaurant, but the next time that I go, I will be ready to save money.

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I generally do not use coupons at all, mostly because I rarely come across coupons for things I buy.  The time it takes to find them is usually not worth the gain.  I do not let the possession of coupons influence my decision to buy things.  I will only use a coupon if I already plan on buying something.  If I use a coupon just because I have a coupon, then I will lose money I would otherwise have kept.  I do not buy things because I have a coupon, but if I go I will use them.  Coupons are very valuable, but only if they will save me money on something I would have bought anyway.

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